Happy New Year. What a year it has been! At the start of the year, I was in a very dark and confusing place but I am finishing the year with hope. If you had told me then all that you were dreaming.
Through the years work has been the one stable, constant thing in my life, but all that changed when my company merged with another to form a new company. We moved office, colleagues left or moved inter-state and I felt rudderless and ineffective. I went from being very busy to having almost no work at all. Work was no longer a safe space for me. For someone who does not like change, there was too much at once. Most of my clients are now over east or in New Zealand so I start work very early in the morning to get more than a couple hours a day time overlap.
I felt disconnected from family and friends. I dropped out of the music team at church and suddenly felt I didn’t fit anywhere anymore. This is a really hard place to be in. I was questioning everything – work, my relationships and even my faith. But I just kept going – doing what I do to try to move forward.
Early September, I felt the need to go and see my mum. Only problem with that was, I hadn’t been able to get on a plane for 4 years. In fact, the very thought of it made me anxious, and visiting mum meant 4 plane rides as there is no direct flight from here to there.
For months, I had intentionally trying not to do the “must” and “should”, trying instead to do the ‘I want to’. This need to go and see mum was not from a sense of duty – a ‘should’ – it was a ‘want to’, which left me in a quandary. How do I get on the plane? Add to that the fact that I have to be frisked every time I go through a security scanner because of my knee replacement.
My counsellor gave me some strategies for the journey, and miraculously, I survived the trip with no panic attacks. I came close but was able to employ these strategies and ward of the panic. My previous blog post details some of that.
I was home for a week and still very jet-lagged, when I was told I had to travel for work. The short version is that I had to do 4 business trips (8 flights) and although it was tough, I made it. I honestly believe I would not have been able to do so had I not learnt to manage the anxiety on the long flights to and from the U.K.
At the end of the fourth trip, which involved numerous delays and long days, I decided I wasn’t going to leave the house again for at least a week, maybe two. I had already done a grocery shop online, to be delivered my first morning home, so didn’t need to go out for anything. I was physically, emotionally and mentally drained. But once I thought about all I had ‘survived’ in the past couple of months, I was determined not to let the anxiety win, so I ventured out.
In the middle of all this, I as sent for a heart scan as the doctor was concerned about some of my symptoms. The results were really good and I have a very healthy heart thankfully. So now we could treat the anxiety and mall hernia they discovered in my chest. The medication is working well and the symptoms have diminished considerably.
I am not ready to hop on a plane again anytime soon, but at least now I know I can. I am so different to what I was at the start of the year. I can smile again, laugh more and I am even beginning to sleep a ;title better. I still have a ways to go, but I have hope now. I can beat this thing called PTSD. I am so very grateful for the help I had along the way this year. I would not have made without those who came alongside me and cheered me on.
So as this year closes, and new one begins, I have hope and a more positive outlook for the days ahead.